Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“It isn’t about race!”

“It isn’t about race!”

That has to be the most ridiculous excuse I’ve ever heard. To be honest, when I hear it, I’m enraged. How could you look at the events of Ferguson, Baltimore and all the others (because this is unfortunately a common occurrence) and say it isn’t about race? But then again, I have to remember that a lot of people will never fully understand these events because they don’t live the same reality.

As a minority in America, you are constantly stereotyped and labeled. If I’m being completely honest, I have been a hypocrite who has contributed to the stereotyping and I’m disappointed in that. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of dirty looks, be watched while shopping, and get less than pleasing service in stores because of the color of my skin. And that’s nothing compared to what others experience. My own father, the hardest working man I know, has been the victim of racial profiling by police officers on more than one occasion. He’s been followed to work and questioned, pulled over and had his car searched, all because of the color of his skin.

Race has everything to do with what’s going on. Now, does this mean I agree with people looting local businesses and destroying their own neighborhoods? Absolutely not. But do I understand the reason behind their actions? Yes. Many are choosing to write these people off as ‘thugs’ and completely demonize their actions, shifting the focus away from the real issue, which is why they’re so upset. Over the past year, you’ve seen people who are genuinely hurt and fed up act on their frustration. And while I don’t believe destructive riots are the answer, I’m not going to let that be the focus of the movement itself. Yes, some people are senselessly rioting, but most aren’t. Sensationalism on the part of the media does a great job of influencing our focus, and needless to say, they’re biased. Don’t forget, there’s a real reason for the frustration.

Black people are being killed by law enforcement, and we aren’t receiving any answers. No one is being held accountable for their actions. Do you know how terrifying it is to think that my own father or brother could be victim to this nonsense? Are they law abiding citizens? Of course. But does that mean anything anymore? Who knows. When you continue to allow law enforcement to abuse their power or not be held accountable for their actions, who knows what will come from it.

So say what you want because we’re all entitled to our own opinions, but be careful before speaking on something you know nothing about. If you don’t understand the pain behind the protests, you’ve probably never felt the sting of racism and you probably don’t know what it’s like to carry the weight of racial stereotypes. 

We can’t seem to sympathize with the plight of others and see where they’re coming from, and that’s an issue. We act like ignoring it and downplaying it will make it go away, but that’s clearly not working. There’s so much brokenness, so much injustice, so many underlying issues (poverty, lack of education, mental illness, etc). Yes, it’s all related and relevant. Yes, it’s overwhelming. But ignoring or downplaying it won’t fix a thing. “It’s not about race,” is an easy excuse, but it isn’t valid.

I think it’s time for all of us to wake up and ask ourselves what we’re doing to make the situation better. And if you don’t understand, I think now is the time to start.

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